Monday, July 13, 2015

If the love fits

Many singles fret over love relationship and many of them wonder if perhaps what they are asking for is wrong? It is not uncommon to see how some relationships can turn out to be so disastrous these days and perhaps it is this worrisome trend that is putting them off? Just recently I read that going on dates to meet that special someone is like shopping for shoes. You may find a shoe with an attractive design that catches your eye - or maybe even one that you feel is like a match made in heaven, but lo and behold, the salesperson informs you that it is not available in your size. So what do you do? Do you try on the smaller size and hope that it grows on you - that is like what some people have done being in a relationship that hurts constantly - some are able to endure it (maybe it doesn't hurt that much?) while others call it quits after some time and discard the shoe, no matter how good it looks in the beginning. Or perhaps after being informed by the salesperson, you would just continue to "shop" and hoping that maybe you might stumble upon something better? What if you decided on something less attractive but fits comfortably? Would you still have lingering thoughts about how that shoe that caught your eye would have been perfect if it had your size? Would you say to yourself, okay no choice I will just "settle" for this which is something less? Or would you be happy that it is still something you like and better still it fits perfectly? Or maybe as a last possibility, say hey there's no perfect shoe for you and settle for none?

Maybe that is what Leslie Pearl was trying to say in her song,
If the love fits, wear it baby
And if it feels good, put it on
And if it looks right then just maybe
This love we have is where you belong


Whatever it is, it is your choice, but don't forget that being in a relationship takes two to tango.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Right frequency

While attending a close friend's wedding dinner, I was seated with one of my friend's colleague who works in an aircraft radio workshop (which does repair and maintenance on aircraft radio and communications components). He was telling us that amongst the entire aircraft maintenance facility, the radio workshop was the most "productive" when it came to love relationships as there were already five married couples from the workshop alone. So inevitably he and his colleagues would gossip (oops, I meant "discuss") over lunch in the canteen to explain this phenomenon. They came to the conclusion that it was due to the nature of the job - as while fixing up aircraft radio components, the staff had to sit at workbenches beside each other all day long, thus giving Cupid (the mythical God of love, often depicted as a baby-like angel with a bow and arrow) the chance to aim his arrow properly and bring the couple together! In other workshops and other job functions, the staff would be so busy running around the facility, rushing to meet unhumanly deadlines that Cupid would find it hard to get a good aim. In some cases, Cupid misses and even hit the wrong targets, ha! So the moral of the story turns out to be if you want to find love, don't always be rushing around as in the worst case, Cupid might miss and you might end up loving the wrong person! All of us at the dinner table felt enlightened after the story as it all seemed to make sense... in any case, it does have some logic to it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hammie

There is this special bond between humans and animals (yes, some people regard humans as animals as well); this can be seen especially when one keeps pets. My parents are opposed to having pets in the house but life is full of twists and one pet made its way to my home - this is the story of that special pet:

I used to help look after hamsters in the bunk during my National Service together with another of my bunk mate. We were the ones who bought all the stuff and gave them the care. After National Service, that bunk mate continued to look after a couple of hamsters in his university hostel room while I had that no-pet-rule in my home. However, when it came to graduation, my bunk mate had to vacate his hostel room and bring his hamsters back to his home. At that time, he had 3 hamsters, of which one was perpetually being bullied by the other 2 and thus he had to frequently separate that poor hamster into a separate small container while the other 2 enjoyed a huge cage he had bought. Knowing that hamsters recognise each other by smell, he tried all means including bathing all of them and returning them back into the cage - but it didn't work. Now that he had to bring them home, he realised he had only enough space in his room for that one big cage for the 2 and no place for that ostracised hamster. So he asked around who could adopt but there were no takers. I had helped him move his stuff from his hostel room back to his home in batches and being quite desperate he asked if I could look after the poor hamster for a week while he looked for someone to adopt. Despite the taboo at home, I somehow agreed and carried the small container with that little innocent looking hamster back to my home.

It was no surprise for me when my mother exclaimed at the sight of the hamster but I explained to my mother that it was only for a week and already I too was asking around for someone to adopt the hamster. Being rather unimaginative, I just called that little pearl white hamster Hammie. I couldn't stand seeing him in such a tiny container and took a large unused cardboard box converted it into his temporary home, put his food in a little dish in a corner, hung his water bottle at one end. Hammie was a very gentle and shy hamster who was rather curious. When I carried him into his new temporary home, he did not struggle nor attempt to bite me. He was so happy to explore his spacious abode. Whenever my parents peered into the box, he would stand on his hind legs and peer back with his cute beady eyes - my parents immediately fell in love with him. Before I knew it when I was not around, my parents bought food and stuff for him and when I told them it was only temporary, they simply replied that the stuff could be handed over to the new owner. Anyone who knows hamsters would know they bite but Hammie was very friendly and would let my parents pat and stroke him - maybe his meek nature was the reason why he was bullied in the first place.

One week passed without any luck and I wondered how I would break the news to my parents. Surprisingly, there wasn't any resistance at all when I told them I needed another week. The only condition was to get a proper cage for him which I gladly did over the weekend and shopped for a nice big cage (bigger than his other 2 friends) with a cool wheel and even a mezzanine sleeping level. Gosh I even bought nice sleeping hay to line the cage. My parents bought him some treats and a new water bottle. In the day, he would play in the box in the living room and at night, I would carry him into his new cage which I brought to my room. Despite sometimes being quite poofed after work, I would religiously clean his home, top up his food and water - sometimes my dad would help. Hammie was quite clean and hardly made a mess. He was fussy too with food and soon I knew what he loved to eat including his favourite plump sunflower seeds which sometimes he ate out of my fingers. Hammie was like a perfect child and despite the additional work to do, he brought immense joy to my family. After that week, we decided not to look for new owners and from a somewhat originally orphaned status, Hammie now emerged to be the prince of my household and as time went by, he was showered with more stuff and gifts from my family.

When Hammie passed away a little more than 3 years later, my mother was so upset and the no-pet-rule was restored again as she could not bear another heartache. Having a pet is like looking after a child, and it takes commitment - so I do agree how organisations like SPCA are trying to reach out to would-be owners to mindful of the obligations before irresponsibly abandoning their pets. The only consolation my parents and I had was at least we gave Hammie all we could while he was in this world, and he passed away peacefully from old age.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Of Form and Substance

When I was serving my National Service, our Officer-in-Command (OC) shared with us about "form" and "substance". Form referred to one's outward appearance to others or simply how others perceive oneself. It includes one's dressing (e.g. if one dresses sloppily or too casual, then others will not treat one seriously) as well as one's behaviour (e.g. if one sulks most of the time, then others will perceive one as a negative person). Substance, on the other hand, refers to one's innate ability including one's skill and knowledge. The way our society seems to generally work or actually how most companies seem to operate is people with high form usually get promoted and rise up the ranks fast. These people usually do not have much substance but due to how the bosses perhaps perceive them. It could possibly be because they are more vocal and visible to management that there is some form of recognition as compared to perhaps a hard but silent worker who toils away in the background without being noticed by the higher-ups. Such is the reality of life that perhaps someone reading this would immediately jump onto the bandwagon of developing form rather than useless substance. And there are so many avenues for that - most of the so-called self-help gurus out there can't wait to get you on their "life-changing" programmes that tell you how to be more confident, how to network and the list goes on. The media promotes such people too and make celebrities of people who are on the fast-track - headlines like the youngest CEO, etc have become so attractive. But wait - is substance really that useless and form is really what gets you through life? The truth is hardly anyone tells you that if one only has form or rise up the ranks mainly through form alone, then the cliche "the higher you climb, the harder you fall" applies. Without the necessary substance to back one up, a person with high form but little or no substance will have to rely on people with the substance - but people with the substance can one day bite back.

If the above is true, then it may be quite a dilemma. Having more than a decade of working experience, whenever young people ask me for career advice, I would share with them this: In life, we need to have a balance of both form and substance. For certain careers like marketing and sales, then perhaps more form is required. However for technical trades, then perhaps more substance is required. The tendency for those pursuing technical trades is that they may become too engrossed in developing substance that sometimes they may neglect the communication with others and for some, even neglecting their outward appearance (by dressing too unprofessional) and even behaviour. Some behave very reclusive but truly it is not beneficial to be too extreme as it will not hurt to every now and then, come out their shells (or cave for that matter) and mingle with colleagues and bosses. Of course some people may outright proclaim it is not in their character to be a social butterfly but the idea is not to be too extreme in this aspect either - don't do something that is totally out of one's character, everyone has an innate ability to make friends, it doesn't have to be fancy, start with a simple "how are you doing?" - a lot of people forget there is a lot of learning too by interacting with others. When one is fresh in their careers, in fact, one should focus more on developing substance especially for those in the technical field - I'll explain more in a bit. Young people these days who under the influence of the media or their peers (or even their educators) have a tendency to want to pursue the fast-track in life. However this kind of thinking is detrimental to the long term career growth. Imagine someone who has probably fast-track into, let's say, a senior engineer position but for example, when a junior engineer asks a lower-level question but because this person has not managed to gain the relevant experience to answer; being in a senior position would be too embarassed to admit not to know the answer but then again too embarassed to ask even someone else to try to learn. I've seen it happen all too often - people who rise fast but didn't have the necessary time to gain the necessary knowledge and exposure (or simply known as experience), have become stuck as there is practically no way for them to go back in time to pick up such skills or knowledge due to their current level and people's expectations of them. A lot of junior people forget that there is an advantage of being junior - one can afford to make mistakes and be forgiven. As such it is pointless to pursue higher level sounding job titles in a hurry and thereby should focus on developing the necessary skills and experience so that when actually in the higher position, one would have already been well-prepared to handle the obligations. While I can't dictate what are their ultimate choices in life, I guess it should be some useful food for thought for the young people - hopefully they can make better informed decisions for their careers.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Story of Motorcycles and Cars

This is the story of motorcycles and how I got my driving license:

When I was studying in the university, I decided I should learn how to ride a motorcycle as I found a good deal for a cheap secondhand scooter. What strongly inspired me to do that was if I rode to university from home, the journey would probably take me a little more than 15 minutes given the proximity of my home - however, if I took the public transport, it would take me at least an hour - sometimes it even takes me an hour and a half due to the crowd going into the school during peak periods! Yes, I know some will wonder how that is possible given that Singapore claims to have a world-class transport system but I guess most Singaporeans already know how true that claim is - nonetheless this topic will not be discussed here. So I got about enquiring and even picked up a registration form and brochure from the driving school. By some strange fate the very next day, my mum found the form and brochure on my desk (despite being stashed under some books) and gave me hell. She would scream at me every day from then on for me to give up the notion of getting a motorcycle license, and I would just silently oblige with the hidden intention to learn without her knowledge after the screaming phase had blown over. She somehow knew my intention and after 2 weeks, she directed her screaming to my dad, urging him to sponsor me to learn driving instead. I lamented that it was pointless for me to learn driving as there was no way I could afford a car (even a secondhand one). However, both my dad and I could sense how determined she was and eventually both of us relented - that I was how I ended up learning to drive instead.

Since I was sponsored by my dad, I decided to get a good instructor from the driving school but unfortunately I didn't pass on my first attempt despite not getting any demerit points from driving in the circuit. During my first driving test, I was on a filter lane waiting to drive off and it was all because some scooter decided to beat the red traffic light at that junction that the tester stepped on the brake of the car and in an instant, the test was deemed an immediate failure. It was already a red traffic light and the junction was clear, so I was about the drive off after waiting near the mouth of the filter lane but some law-breaking scooter decided to beat the red traffic light, making a high speed wide right turn at the junction towards the mouth of the filter lane where I had already been forced to stop as the tester had his foot on the brake. There was at least a good half a minute before the scooter would pass the bonnet of my car and the deep rage within me almost tempted me to press the car horn real hard when the scooter passed me by - that should really jolt that irresponsible dangerous bugger and probably even cause him to crash horribly! Like a predator I waited... heck what did it matter after all the fate of the test was sealed... yet I really had to suppress my burning rage and let that law-breaker passed me by without event before grudgingly driving back to the centre and accepting the results unwillingly. I felt miserable after spending my father's money and failing in such a manner. So after picking myself up (I prayed that for his own sake that scooter rider better not ride so dangerously in future or one day his dangerous riding will catch up with him), I informed my dad that I would pay for the additional driving lessons as well as for my second driving test attempt. The second test went by pretty uneventful and I passed the entire test with only a mere 3 demerit points for failing to check one of the blind spots.

So I continued to take the less-than-efficient public transport for my entire university life. It wasn't till after some years of working before I could eventually afford a car. It was only after I had really started driving before I realised how right my mum was - about how dangerous it was to ride a motorcycle. All my friends who rode motorcycles (yes, every single one) at some point in time, have gotten into an accident before (but of varying severity). When I was in junior college, one of my classmates almost lost his life after slamming face-first into a lorry. His whole body and face were so badly injured, he couldn't take his A-levels examinations that year and had to take it the subsequent year. Recently a colleague of mine didn't know what had happened as the next thing he could remember, he had already woken up in a hospital - apparently according to the traffic police report, some witnesses said his motorcycle had skidded, rendering him unconscious and someone called the ambulance. He was probably lucky that he is still alive though suffering from multiple minor injuries. When I drive, I can see how easy it is for a motorcycle to get into an accident, especially with all dangerous weaving in and out and between vehicles. Recently a lot of bad driving behaviour on the roads is not helping the situation at all. There is very limited protection when riding and risk of having severe injuries is high. Now looking back I guess my mum had the best of intentions and a valid concern.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Addiction & Science Fiction

A zoologist friend was on the train with me some time ago and was explaining the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin. The theory and its numerous variations by other scientists, which is still being debated upon till today, suggests that humans evolved through natural selection - or commonly known as survival of the fittest. Back then, good hunting skills was essential for survival but now as both of us were staring at the other commuters on the train, it would probably be good online skills? The most apt chinese term to describe that scene was "低头族" (which directly translates to "lowered head generation") as almost everyone was peering down, busy on their mobile devices (some on their mobile phones, while others on their tablet devices), seemingly quite detached from their immediate surroundings, engaged in some online world. Just like the way aliens have been depicted in many science fiction novels and movies, my friend postulated that the future generation of humans will evolve such that the head will be bigger than the body (due to more use of the brain and less use of the physical body). Thus perhaps all those alien sightings could be a glimpse into the future or the future human visiting the present which has already past via some time machine? With the way so many of us, especially the future generation, are so addicted to their mobile devices and the online world, who can really tell? Both my friend and I had a good chuckle while having that conversation, as the other commuters on board seemed unaware of us.

Monday, June 01, 2015

quod scripsi, scripsi

The title is the famous latin quote (meaning what I have written, I have written) from the Bible (John 19:22) of Pontius Pilate when the chief priests protested when he wrote "iesus nazarenus rex iudaeorum" (which meant Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews) before Jesus was brought out to be crucified. I was going through some of the past blog entries since the beginning - at a time when the idea of blogging was new and slowly as time passed, new platforms of social media were introduced. Up to the point when I had taken a deliberate break from blogging, I have been contemplating the fate of this blog. Some years before 2011, I had experimented embedding Youtube videos but in case, you were wondering, I have begun removing the videos from past entries as some led to dead links and simply because I decided that for the blog to continue its existence, it shall return to its roots of just being pure words. Just prior to the break, I had experimented with Twitter but it definitely didn't suit my style as it's really just random anecdotes that do not qualify themselves well enough i.e. giving a somewhat incomplete picture.

So why the sudden revival of the blog? What has happened since then? It makes more chronological sense to answer the second question first: I took a break off blogging as I was pursuing a Masters degree. Though I had graduated long ago, it seemed more appropriate to observe the evolution of social media especially in Singapore - many companies began engaging customers on social media platforms, many customers similarly responded on this same media, some people formed organisations on these platforms too (there are those that are full time Youtube content providers and bloggers too!). So much had evolved and indeed the Internet has become an essential part of modern day people. There are friends who tell me sometimes all they hope to look for are a few nice articles about life that they can relate to instead of all the popularised virtual insanity out there. Recently a close friend even shared with me about how the power of story-telling is making its way to be a must-have course for executive leadership. It's no surprise how the art of story-telling is powerful tool of communicating ideas or concepts and has been the way Jesus and even Buddha shared the knowledge of the world via such methodology. As I age through life, many younger people have approached me for advice and whenever I shared my own life experience, they could better relate and understand. Maybe if I shared them on this blog, someone else could relate to them too? Okay, in case if you haven't noticed I have answered the first question as well. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meaning of Life

One of the old wive's tales you get to hear from old folks especially when you volunteer at an old folks' home like I do is that to know the age that you will die naturally by observing how old before your grandparents expired (of natural causes). For example, my grandfather passed away (peacefully) shortly after crossing age 70 and thus by now, I have crossed my mid-way mark in my journey of life (so I guess that means I'm going through a mid-life crisis?!). Some of my friends have grandparents that live beyond 90 and thus would have to plan for a longer journey, ha! Yet the truth is life is more fragile than we know it. Just today, my colleague was sharing about how her cousin who was in her mid-30s was diagnosed with lung cancer, passed away suddenly leaving behind 3 kids to her distraught husband, although she didn't smoke nor had any history of poor health (or at least not to the knowledge of my colleague). To put in a morbid blunt manner, there are so many ways to die or one could end up dead, be it via some freak accident or illness or God knows what. Where there is life, there will be death. While many of us can acknowledge this fact, how many of us actually realise the brevity of it all?

Being rather inquisitive since young, I have long pondered about the meaning of life - but that doesn't mean I have a definite answer; just like you who are reading now, we're probably still figuring it out as we journey in this mortal life. Yet here I am sharing what I know - any believer in God or a higher being will typically accept that life is a gift. I often wonder as many people get caught up to be "successful" in life, what does "being successful in life" mean? So does that mean you can possibly be a "failure" in life? Even more curious is who is the judge of it all if that is the case? If we acknowledge the first paragraph of this blog entry, then life in itself is uncertain, so despite all that we can plan, perhaps there could some divine will or destiny already laid out for us? Not to be fatalistic but these are all questions that probably crossed our mind at some point in time as we ponder the meaning of our mortal existence. So do we go on pondering deeper and deeper like what some of the ancient Greek philosophers did - will we eventualy get a definite answer? Probably at some point, we might just accept that life is indeed a gift and it is what we make of it - probably more meaningful to focus on making the best of it (whilst it lasts!); just like a common saying goes, "life is not a destination but a journey". As I make my own journey in life, I have discovered that perhaps everyone's meaning in life could be different; I feel I have been giving meaning to my own existence in my own way through the things I do (and choose not to do) - maybe that principle also applies to everyone else? Who knows?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Stressful Singapore?

Has Singapore really become such a stressful place to live in?

The following are the news reports:
Nov 5: Body of a Chinese man was found in Bedok Reservoir on Saturday morning. This is the 6th body to be found in Bedok Reservoir since June this year.
Nov 2: A 26-year-old Vietnamese woman (Truong Thi Ngoh Anh) was found dead at the foot of a block in Woodlands early Wednesday morning, nearly 6 months after a corpse was discovered in a water tank of the same block. She is believed to have fallen to her death from the 6th story of block 686B Woodlands Street 73.
Oct 25: Body of a Chinese woman in her late 50s dressed in a red was found floating in Bedok Reservoir on Tuesday morning.
Oct 10: Body of a 33-year-old Indian construction worker was found in Bedok Reservoir on Monday morning.
Sep 22: The bodies of a 32-year-old young woman and her 3-year-old son (Tan Sze Sze and her son Jerald Chin Le Hui) were found by the shoreline of Bedok Reservoir on Thursday morning. Both were dressed in red.
Jun 20: The decomposed lower body of a 23-year-old Chinese national (Lin Xiao) was found in Bedok Reservoir.

If you're stressed, have desserts! As desserts are spelt the reverse of 'stressed’.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Don't you feel as if every now and then, life seems to get you down; and sometimes you feel as if you have hit rock bottom that you fear you'll never get out of it? Well at times like this, since it can't possibly get any worse, there's nothing to lose when you look on the bright side of life.

From the film Monty Python's Life of Brian, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle and this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life ~whistle~
Always look on the light side of life ~whistle~


If life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps, don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

For life is quite absurd and death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show, keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

(See also: Donkey)